Edinburgh Zoo Christmas Nights
In December I took the opportunity to visit Edinburgh Zoo for their first annual Christmas Night. Normally, the zoo spends their winter nights showing off some amazing lanterns, each year with a different theme. For example, dinosaurs! This year I suppose they had to take a different direction, so they've put together some beautiful light displays for guests to walk around and enjoy, and so I decided to check it out.
If you're planning on visiting, my first tip is to wrap up warm! Here in Scotland we're already having a pretty intense winter with plummeting temperatures, icy wind, and snow. The Christmas Nights event only takes place in the evening, so it was incredibly cold the day I visited. Therefore, I definitely recommend that you wrap up warm. I was wearing many layers, including tights under my trousers, thick shoes, and about three layers under my jumper...and that was before I even put on my coat, hat, and gloves!
We arrived by car to the zoo; normally you have to pay around £4 for parking, and I believe this was still in place during this ticketed event, however we actually found free parking on the street, and had no trouble getting a space there...bonus! So I do recommend looking for alternative parking before turning to the official zoo car park if you can.
We only queued for a couple of minutes outside before we were ushered in to show our tickets. If you're attending this event in 2020, be sure to bring a face mask with you as you do have to go inside for a short while to enter the zoo. From there, we entered the one way system that allows you to walk at your own pace around the lit paths.
This walkway is beautiful, and is illuminated by a wonderful pattern of coloured lights which show off the amazing foliage that covers the zoo. There were also fairy lights illuminating the way, and Christmas trees everywhere. They've done a fantastic job of making it feel really magical and special.
This kind of lighting continues throughout the whole event, and there's certainly no shortage of picture opportunities...everywhere you look is beautiful! There are also some photo spots throughout the walk designed for your perfect Instagram shots, including angel wings, an ice wall, and a massive moon that looks even more amazing in person! There was also an incredible lights tunnel that would look amazing in pictures, but the queue for this was very long, so we decided to give it a skip...but maybe next year!
Every now and again there were shows you could stand and watch, including a light projection show on some rocks that was really clever. My favourite, however, was a beautiful arctic animation that was so peaceful...I could have watched it for hours (you can actually see it on my Instagram Stories)!
I'm sure the main question everyone has is, do you get to see any animals? Unfortunately, we didn't get to see many animals at all. For the most part, the exhibits are blocked off, so even if the animals were there, you wouldn't be able to see them. It also seemed like the staff had ushered the animals indoors, maybe so that the lights and noise wouldn't be a problem. However it might be that, because it was so cold, the animals chose to go indoors, so maybe if you went on a warmer day you would see a few more. We did, however, get to go through the penguin enclosure which is where you'll find the giant moon photo opportunity. On one side were Lego penguins, which I think were there to ensure you got a good picture. On the other were the real penguins, but it was so dark that they were quite hard to see. It was still a cool experience though!
About halfway through the walkway, you'll find an area where you can get some coffee, hot chocolate, and marshmallows. We chose to move right past this, but it's there for you if you need or want a pit stop.
You'll also find, towards the end, there is a chance to meet Santa. This does cost extra above the ticket price, but I think it would be really fun to do with small children. I was with a group of adults, so we decided to give this one a miss! At that brings me to another point, which is the cost. For one adult ticket, you're looking at about £20. This isn't too bad, but when you're adding up an entire group it certainly gets pricey. Normally, we wouldn't pay something like this for a short event, but we were in need of some Christmas cheer, so we went for it! Therefore I definitely recommend considering the cost before booking.
The crowd levels at this event were really good. They've done a good job ensuring that there weren't too many people in at a time by staggering arrival times and limiting tickets. If you're worried about crowding, I would recommend attending this event as we had no problem with it at all. The only times you met other people was at photo opportunities, but everyone was queueing and keeping their distance.
My only downside to this whole experience was probably the accessibility. If you've never been, Edinburgh Zoo is incredibly hilly, and you do spend a lot of time walking uphill. This isn't really a problem, but it's incredibly dark at this event, which makes sense as it makes the light displays look amazing. However it makes the path very hard to see, and there's lots of bits where pavements end and start that could cause a trip hazard. Add on to this the rain that was making the walkways slippy, and it was certainly precarious! It wasn't too much of a problem, but if you do have mobility issues I would recommend taking your time, and maybe even bringing a small extra light source if need be.
Overall, I had a fantastic time at Edinburgh Zoo's Christmas Nights, and I would happily attend again next year. We ended up spending about 30 minutes at the event, but if you wanted to do the light walkway and meet Santa, you could certainly be there for over an hour. I felt very safe Covid-wise at this event, and I thought they'd done a beautiful job with it. This event is definitely geared more towards families with children, but I think anyone could enjoy it. As such, I would definitely recommend anyone coming along and giving it a go; it's a great way to get a bit of festive cheer in during these times!
You can see more of my pictures and videos from this event on my social media:
Twitter - _globalsolo
Instagram - _globalsolo
Until next time,